Travel restrictions may ease this week: provincial health officer

British Columbians may soon be able to travel within the province, as persistent low COVID-19 case numbers could allow for an easing of restrictions this week, according to the provincial health officer.

During a briefing in Victoria, Dr. Bonnie Henry said any easing of restrictions should happen safely and include new precautions. She said travellers will have to recognize some communities may not welcome people, especially if they are not equipped to deal with a coronavirus outbreak.

Henry advised travellers to be as self-sufficient as possible, to call ahead to find out what is open, and to also to continue practising physical distancing, and frequent handwashing. She suggested anyone who is even slightly sick — stay at home.

This week, B.C. will finish its second incubation period after reopening. Case numbers have remained low in the two 14-day periods. There have been no cases related to schools. That’s prompting questions about when British Columbians can hit the road and travel.

“It’s not going to be a full on, full off. We said the dimmer switch. So yes, we will be looking at transitioning around travel, around safe travel, within B.C.,” she said.

Asked if that could happen this week, she said maybe. She pointed out there have been clusters of cases where people gathered inadvertently, and said gatherings of large people, even with social distancing measures, can lead to outbreaks.

This summer, she said she won’t lift the restriction on how large gatherings can be.

“I don’t want to give people the impression that what we’re saying is, if we go to Phase 2, Phase 3, that suddenly we don’t have to do the same things that we need to do, and and that speaks to the concern about complacency.”

An Angus Reid online poll of 1,510 Canadian adults from June 8 to 10 found 63 per cent of those surveyed say compared to April — they’re keeping up with expert information less often. Forty-four per cent said they aren’t physically distancing as much as they were, and another 30 per cent say they’re washing their hands less frequently. The poll carries a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 per cent and is considered accurate 19 times out of 20.

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